Thursday, March 22, 2007

More on bad acts by K.Y. Cha in publishing science, related to CIRM's grant to CHA-RMI

Concerning the grant by California's CIRM to an affiliate company of CHA, a March 21 post on californiastemcellreport began with the following text:

A Los Angeles organization that is scheduled to receive a $2.6 million research grant from the California stem cell agency is a subsidiary of a Korean enterprise headed by a scientist who is enmeshed in an international plagiarism dispute.

The second paragraph of the stemcellreport mentioned:

The scientist is Kwang-Yul Cha, who also "came under criticism a few years ago for his involvement in a study suggesting that anonymous prayers from strangers might double a woman's chances of fertility," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Not totally clear in the stemcellreport is that there are two separate distinct incidents, each raising different issues. Separately, the stemcellreport did not cover all the relevant details of the "anonymous prayer" matter.

I. "Anonymous prayer" paper in 2001

The "anonymous prayer" matter happened first in time and relates to a paper published in 2001: K.Y. Cha, D.P. Wirth, and R.A. Lobo, "Does prayer influence the success of in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer?" Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 46:781-787, 2001. Of relevance to the stemcellreport's concern with public disclosure in the CIRM context (e.g., post on sunburn), note an early post on IPBiz: The Journal of Reproductive Medicine (JRM), which published the study (K.Y. Cha, D.P. Wirth, and R.A. Lobo, "Does prayer influence the success of in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer?" 46:781-787, 2001), not only refused to publish letters critical of it, they refused to even acknowledge their receipt. As months went by the JRM steadfastly refused to respond to e-mails, calls, or letters about the study. Of Cha's co-authors, IPBiz had noted: On November 22, 2004, study co-author Daniel Wirth was sentenced to five years in prison followed by three years of supervised release (parole). At the conclusion of his sentencing hearing Mr. Wirth was taken into United States Marshal custody pending his transfer to a federal prison. AND an "erratum" which appeared in JRM in October 2004: Dr. Lobo is
listed as an author of the article and has requested that his name be deleted, as his name appears in error. He was not directly involved in conducting the research reported in the article; he was involved principally in redaction of the manuscript for stylistic and syntactic purposes. This alteration is in keeping with JRM authorship requirements.
[IPBiz note: does this remind one of Schatten's story AFTER the Hwang fraud was exposed?]

Thus, to sum up Cha's 2001 paper: one co-author is a convicted felon, one co-author has had his name removed, but JRM won't retract it.

Note also footnote 13 of 4 Kent-J. Int. Prop. 108 (2004): . In the area of scientific research, inquiries are not always answered, as Leon Jaroff has illustrated for the inquiries of Bruce Flamm about the paper by Kwang Y. Cha, Daniel P. Wirth, and Rogerio Lobo, 46 J.Repro. Med. 781 (2001); see,9565,660053,00.html.

II. The plagiarized paper in 2005

To show the seriousness of the problems with the plagiarized paper of Cha, IPBiz quotes directly from "The Scientist:"

Fertility and Sterility has censured the authors of a 2005 article after learning a Korean journal had published the identical paper one year earlier. The Fertility and Sterility authors also left off the name of Jeong-Hwan Kim, who was listed as the first author on the Korean paper and performed the bulk of the research reported in both papers.

The journal plans to update its database and national databases such as MEDLINE, adding the name of Kim as the first author of the study, which described the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to measure mitochondrial DNA in women with premature ovarian failure.

The journal will also issue a note in an upcoming issue describing the transgression, and has barred every author listed on the original Fertility and Sterility paper from contributing papers to the journal for three years, editor Alan DeCherney told The Scientist. "This is a serious punishment."

Every author signed a statement saying they had not published the paper in another journal, and had no plans to do so. "So they perjured themselves," DeCherney noted, adding the incident was a "blight on the field."

This story was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

At his request, the Korean Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology sent DeCherney a translated copy of the paper they published, which was "pretty much" identical to the Fertility and Sterility paper. The Korean article contained slight differences in wording that likely stemmed from the translation, DeCherney noted.

He said he had no plans to retract the article, since no one was questioning the validity of the science. If the paper is retracted, "the only person who will be hurt is Dr. Kim," who wouldn't get credit for his research, DeCherney noted.

He added that the journal learned last summer that the paper had been plagiarized, but waited to act on the information until it confirmed the role Kim had played in the research. Last Monday (Feb 12), the editorial board of the Korean Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology told DeCherney they had reviewed the evidence and confirmed that Kim had played a significant enough role to designate him as the first author of the Fertility and Sterility paper. "If it was a very important paper with clinical implications, I would have acted differently" and sped up the process, said DeCherney. "It's much more important that we be careful," and take the time to thoroughly review the claims, he added.

Neither the first nor the corresponding authors of the Fertility and Sterility paper -- Kwang-Yul Cha and Sook-Hwan Lee, respectively -- responded to requests for comment. Lee is also listed as an author on the Korean Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology paper.

IPBiz notes that the actions of "Fertility and Sterility" confirm that it is possible to "plagiarize" oneself, contrary to the assertions of an SIU administrator who passed off as "original," a game plan to SIU work that had previously been done for a different employer in Texas.


See also the post on IPBiz entitled Intellectual honesty? which appeared in February 2007, and
Korea's CHA RMI gets stem cell grant from California's CIRM, as well as


An email came to me with the following text:

Now that CIRM has doled out millions for ESCR, it might be interesting to note that in NJ, quite the opposite took place with their (ESCR) bill. ESCR supporters in NJ feel duped.

Of the 17 projects funded by the first $5 million of state funding going to stem cell research, only one(1) project involved the kind of research the NIH doesn�t currently fund adequately: human embryonic stem cell research.
Or to put it differently, ��..just $300,000 of the $5 million total went to hESCR. That represents only 5%, with the remainder (95%) going to adult stem cell research and mice ESCR which is already funded at a ratio of 30 to 1 by the federal government.

It would be great if the MSM would hold states accountable which claim to be supportive to ESCR, but then proceed to use the funds almost exclusively for ASCR.

Luckily this did not happen in California.

IPBiz notes that the issue isn't about research or possible cures from the research, but about TELLING THE TRUTH. Inflated claims about the possibility of patent royalties, which appeared in both California and New Jersey, mislead voters into making incorrect decisions. Tell the voters the truth about patent royalties and about the time scale for cures, and let them vote with accurate knowledge. Anything less is "duping" the population.


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